A few months ago, Jay sent me a huge box of Magic cards. I had a brief dream of setting up a Yantai Magic league, but that was quickly squashed by scheduling problems. My Chinese students were already overscheduled with necessary classes and sports training, starting school at seven AM and finishing around nine PM. There simply isn’t time for a Magic tournament.
Still, I’ve given out a lot of introductory sets to my students. Bonus packs, I promised, would come to those who aced spelling tests. (This was so effective that Stephen would greet the announcement of a spelling test with a little happy shout). I gave Young a pack of Magic cards and told him to find a friend and play the intro game and report back to me.
And he didn’t do it.
Yes, the homework was to play a game and he didn’t do it.
I know that he might not have had enough time, he might not have been able to convince his mom and dad that the lao wai lao shi actually told him to play a game, etc., etc., but I’m starting to think he just wasn’t comfortable with a weird assignment. Young’s my focus right now, but my other classes often respond the same way to unusual requests. Write each word 5 times, yes, but write a story, blank stare.
What if I could actually teach creativity? I’m already in parental trouble because my students aren’t bringing home lists of vocabulary memorization, so why not? What will it take to get creative discussions instead of passive lumps?